April 14, 2016
The Fizzle's not in the Sov
"This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper." -T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"
Perhaps the poet wasn't thinking of The Imperium when he wrote this in the wake of World War I, but I wonder if some disillusioned Imperial subject will end up writing "The Hollow Goon" after World War Bee. The Mittani has taken to making ever more fantastical postings on TMC, and they are being echoed by some that are presenting a stalwart front with their master, but honestly the increasingly desperate and fatalistic tones sound like they are about to break into whimpers. It seems the inner circle of the Imperium is ready to lash out at just about anyone right now, from their turncoat allies in CO2, to their opponents such as Mercenary Coalition, to personal attacks at members of CCP.
I mentioned last time that I found the idea of joining the Allied forces very appealing. I figured I'd take a look around, so I found a potential event on the World War Bee filter of Timerboard, got into a newly refitted stealth bomber, and headed out. I made perches on the way and was particularly careful making the transition from lowsec into null Pure Blind at Mantenault. Nothing but empty systems greeted me. There were no camps on the entrance, no bubbles to slowly burn out of. Two systems in I saw a TEST pilot enter local, so I opened up a convo to ask how things were going. "Nothing happening" was the answer. Another couple systems in I met another TEST pilot and figured I'd try again and got the same answer. I got to my target system and set up some bookmarks around the IHub that was going to come out in less than an hour, but the single other occupant of the system (a Goon, even) wasn't anywhere on d-scan. I've never actually fired a bomb launcher before, so I warped over to a belt and tried tagging some rats but at least according to the combat logs didn't do any damage so I clearly have something I need to figure out. Perhaps just as well then that the only fleet I saw the entire time was a small goon interceptor fleet that raced through the system, spamming in local about how MOA couldn't catch them.
I would have envisioned Mittani not railing with this effective admission that it will take them "years" of "long, cold and brutal" conflict to reclaim their place. There is no sign of these "Ancient Great Warriors" returning to Goonswarm ranks - instead it seems all of their great warriors, the ones with the adaptable and creative minds capable of fighting under the new Sov, well ... they've all gone over to other Alliances it seems. I would have expected some kind of call of "rise and get in fleets or be purged" with the Imperial Bureaucracy keeping track of slackers via the infamous PAP links. I would have expected a "fierce and hot" conflict for VFK or YA0 rather than "long and cold" - honestly the former would sound a lot more fun if I was a lapsed Imperium pilot. The expectation (myth?) was that the Imperium had an amazingly huge treasury from all those deep 0.0 riches, so even if they were outnumbered 3:5 then could be fighting in a home system, die, reship, undock, and be right back into the fight - unlike their MBC foes who would have a much longer reship supply line. The "Goonhammer" I expected was the power of the purse, combined with the Mittani's infamous political power, and the wily commanders who made the name for the CFC from being able to overwhelm bigger opponents with nothing but Rifters. Instead it seems that many of the big names are on the other side. Now the game's largest capital and supercapital fleet stays logged off or hidden for risk of being lost if it is used. The big take-away from the Close Quarter's interview with Vily (jump to the end if you don't want Vily's long early history bit) is that he and others wanted to fight, but that pugnacious heart of the CFC is gone.
What has fizzled is that the Imperium no longer has no confident swagger, no fearsome reputation, and no strong right arm to back it all up.
A hot war that carried through spring and into summer would have been incredible for the game, though even as it is it has been good for the game. About two weeks ago I posted a Eve-Offline PCU count image. Here's the latest:
Those two spikes over 40k since my last blog are great to see. There is a clear change in levels since the start of World War Bee. I'm curious about the future. It seems pretty clear that the Imperium will be wiped from the Sov map. This is accepted by the Imperium leadership and they're already setting up their pilots (those that remain anyway) for the war that will happen after that. If there is enough of a low-sec lull then the MBC will doubtless break apart.
That could begin a new age of sov that might also be appealing to players like myself. We'd be looking at a sov-null that is shattered into many smaller nascent empires much like the dreams of sov we heard in the player meta a year or two ago. The Imperium, shrunk into a hardened core could be a villain of a whole new cast - perhaps they could be the marauding barbarians then, rather than the calcified structure they are now. Perhaps they would be feared again, like they once were, and maybe they can even start to live up to what Mittani is putting out right now. It would be a lot smaller, a lot less dominating, but a lot more fun.
And it'd be a lot better than ending with a whimper.